Winfred Njoki Clarke has seen justice after Justice Msagha Mbogholi ordered Hotel Intercontinental to pay her Sh2 million for being mistaken for a prostitute and being unlawfully imprisoned.
“I hereby make an award of Sh2 million against the hotel and Sh1 million against the Attorney General plus costs of the suit and interest,” directed Justice Msagha Mbogholi.
Mrs. Clarke, who was respectably married to Terrence Leonard James Clarke, had gone to the five-star hotel for a drink with a friend on March 19, 1998.
She was however denied the hotel services since she was not in the company of a man.
It was then required that she pays a “cover charge,” an amount paid by women not in company of a man.
Upon enquiring what they meant by a cover charge, she was forwarded to the hotel manager.
It was then that a security officer told her that, “women who were not residing at the hotel could not be served and that they must pay the cover charge”.
After being mistaken for a prostitute, she demanded to be told why she was being denied services, yet she was a customer like any other. This got her being evicted from the hotel premises.
“A security guard pulled me outside the hotel because I refused to pay the cover charge. I was denied an opportunity to sit at the lounge and when I ended up outside and boarded a taxi, the driver was ordered not to carry me,” read part of her court papers.
“The Hotel Intercontinental personnel called and directed police officers to arrest me, after which I ended up at Central Police Station where I was held for two days without any charges being pressed against me,” she says.
In her defense, she accused the hotel of acting maliciously which shamed her in public, something that caused her severe shock and mental anguish.
In his ruling, the judge said, “It was therefore within her right to ask what this “cover charge” was? Instead of an answer, she was dragged out of the hotel and ended up in a police station.”
“The actions of the hotel amounted to great humiliation and embarrassment, Clarke has established that she is entitled to damages,” the judge continued.
It was then decided that she be compensated by both the hotel and the Attorney General, who she had sued.